It was the purpose of this document to describe differences between the NSES content standards and SFAA/Benchmarks, not to make a case for including or excluding any particular idea. It does seem useful, however, to draw attention concisely to the kinds of issues that could account for differences. As may already have been evident, the score or so absences from SFAA/Benchmarks of a score or so points that are included in NSES occur for one or another of three main reasons:

Reason 1. We considered including a point in Benchmarks, but decided against it. The decision involved a cost/benefit analysis in which the payoff of knowing the item, intrinsically or as support for other ideas, is weighed against the investment of time and effort required to learn it (and ideas needed to support it).
  For example, Benchmarks does not include the point in NSES that gravitational attraction is an "inverse-square" force, only that it diminishes with distance.
Reason 2. We considered a point to be appropriate, but we believed it to be a reasonable inference from points that are already included in Benchmarks.
  For example, Benchmarks has no explicit statement -- as NSES does -- that behavior is shaped by environment through natural selection. Benchmarks does state in one place, however, that environment shapes heritable characteristics of organisms and, elsewhere, that such characteristics include physiology, structure, and behavior.
Reason 3. We overlooked a point, believe it would be appropriate for Benchmarks, and will consider including it in the next edition.
  For example, the point in NSES that water, being a solvent, carries dissolved materials with it wherever it goes.
Another possible reason--that we might doubt the validity of a statement in NSES --was expectedly rare. Among the hundreds of points made there is only a single instance (see footnote for Table 6).
We hope this analysis fosters dialog between and about the NRC and Project 2061 to consider differences, so that the most consistent and helpful recommendations possible will evolve.

Table 6
Ideas/topics in NSES that are not included in SFAA/Benchmarks

Types and levels of organization, and hierarchies as common themes (p. 117)
Explicitly, importance of measurement in science (p. 118)
Different systems of measurement (p. 118)
Separation of mixtures of substances by their properties (p. 154)
Chemical reactions are oxidation/reduction (exchange of electrons) or acid/base (exchange of hydrogen ions), radicals as reactive units (p. 179)
Identification of protein catalysts as "enzymes" (p. 179)
"Complementarity of structure and function" as a theme in biology (p. 119, 156)
Identification of DNA molecule as "chromosome", human chromosome number (p. 185)
Behavior patterns "ensure reproductive success" and "must be flexible enough to deal with uncertainty and change" (p. 187)
An inherited trait can be determined by one or many genes, and a single gene can influence more than one trait (p. 157)
Metallic core of earth (p. 159)
Atmosphere includes nitrogen (p. 160)
Clouds affect weather and climate (p. 160)
Radioactivity and gravitational energy of formation as sources of earth's hot interior (p. 189)
Because water is a solvent, it transports dissolved substances with it wherever it goes (p. 160)
General notion of a "reservoir" in systems (p. 189)
Safety and injury prevention (pp. 168, 197)
Sex transmits diseases (pp. 168, 197)
Severity of disease symptoms (p. 197)
Variety of factors influencing decisions about health practices (p. 197)
Mood and behavior can be modified by substances (p. 197)
Natural Hazards (pp. 168, 198, 199)
Pursuing science as career or hobby can be fascinating and intellectually rewarding (p. 200)
"Science distinguishes itself from other ways of knowing...through the use of empirical standards, logical arguments, and skepticism..." (p. 201)

Additional episodes in the history of science (p. 204)

Molecular biology
Information and communication
Quantum theory
Galactic universe
Medical and health technology

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